Seals of the Farne Islands

Considering I live in the UK and I passed my Open Water Course back in 2011. This was actually my first UK Sea diving in all that time. Not sure why I have never done any UK Sea diving but I think a lot of it has to do with the fact any spare time I have for diving I look to get abroad and to tropical water. So weekends to get down to the British coast are hard to come by but I am glad I decided to take the plunge this time as it was a great weekend diving with these playful seals and I will look at doing more in the UK.

The weather for the end of October up on the North East Coast of England isn’t something to rave about but luckily we were in for some amazing weather for the weekend. The North Sea was unusually flat calm and the sunrise in the mornings were picture perfect. All we needed was the seals to be extra playful and great models to top off an already nice weekend with good company.

The first day was great but a little slow for seals coming really close and playful. These 2 seals had a little moment of inquisitive nature but didn’t stay around too long. It was still an amazing day on the water with the sun shining and the water temperature not too cold at 12/13.c. I really wanted a shot of the seals with the dappled light of sunrise in the background but unfortunately they were being a little shy so my dive buddy Roy had to be my model. I was quite pleased with the haunting image of him in the kelp as we were diving on halloween weekend. We completed 2 dives on the Saturday lasting around an hour each with a surface interval that was pleasant considering we were in the North Sea and a cold wind has made it uncomfortable in previous years for the divers who have been on this trip before. The day was finished off with a nice Indian meal at a restaurant in the small seaside town.

The second day was truly special with extremely playful seals and better photo opportunities. These 2 seals were taken within minutes of entering the water on my first dive of the second day. They were being really playful with each other diving in and out of the divers at the surface and I was pretty chuffed to get this shot I named SEALed with a kiss for obvious reasons ;). For a lot of this dive we stayed at the surface and although my dive computer said we done a 30 minute dive, the surface cover actually had us down as being in the water around an hour and 20 minutes. We found the seals were being a lot more inquisitive while we stayed at the surface. We would find a head regularly pop up by us taking a look and a breath before getting bored and swimming off to the other divers around the area.

Although others on our boat had their best interactions on the first day or the first dive of the second day. Me and my dive buddy certainly saved the best till last. We were dropped to another part of the islands where there were quite a few seals playing in a channel between the rocks. The best part was the fact we could finally get some depth in our dive and I managed to reach 17 metres which is unusual for diving with the seals at the Farnes. We were lucky to be greeted at that depth by a playful juvenile that would rapidly swim around us kicking up the silt off the rocks until it suddenly stopped and just stared at me with its big eyes and cute face. Not a shot I would usually like as it has a lot of backscatter in but I feel it tells a story with this shot and a great moment I shared with a cute juvenile. At the end of the dive I guided my dive buddy around the rock face at the surface and thought we could spend some time in a channel at the surface and see what would greet us. It paid off big time and I probably got what I regard to be my best shot from that moment and also finally got a seal playing with my fins as well. As I was looking at my dive buddy he slowly pointed to say look behind you. I didn’t rush or panic as I didn’t want to startle what I was guessing was a seal and that it would swim away. I slowly turned my body lifting my camera rig at the same time to get ready for a shot if I had to be quick. As I turned this cute face was just staring at me as it stayed vertical in the water. Such a great image to be greeted by and it was super inquisitive as well sniffing out my dome port and checking out its reflection and then as it lifted its head out the water I managed to get this split-shot off that I was really happy with when I looked back at my images. It was a great end to the diving as this seal didn’t want us to leave the water and every time we went to swim to the boat it would come back for a play. I’ll certainly be looking to get back in the water of The Farne Islands next year for more fun with the cute Grey Seals that call the Islands home.

Please check out my photos for more images from The Farne Islands and if you would like to use the photos and story for an article please get in touch. :).

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